New policy sets snowplowing priorities

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
November 17th, 2010

Just in time for the first snowfalls of the year, city council has okayed a new snow removal policy. The shift in policy was largely driven by a continuing effort at City Hall to separate policy directive from operational issues, reduce the city’s potential liability risk, and maintain a top notch snow removal service. 

The need for a high level of snow removal in Rossland is clear, and due to the nature of our narrow streets and steep grades, it’s not always an easy job. The biggest change in Rossland’s snow removal through this new policy will be that operations staff now have clear direction on snow plowing priorities (see attached map) routes and plans of action for each shift and varying scenarios.



Snowplowing routes (as shown on the attached map) will now be prioritized as follows:



1. Emergency routes, transit routes and the downtown core (Red on the map)

2. Main residential routes (Green on the map)

3. Secondary residential routes. (Yellow on the map)

4. Dead end streets, alleys and low use roads (Blue on the map)



The routes plows will follow have been broken down into two shifts: 


  •  Shift 1 from 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM Monday to Friday (excluding holidays), in the event of snowfall of 5cm or more the city will send out three vehicles (snowplow, snow blower and grader) on two routes; one in upper Rossland , the other in Lower Rossland. In the event of 5cm or less during this shift two vehicles will be sent out; one in upper Rossland, the other in Lower Rossland. 
  • Shift 2 will cover 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM on Saturdays and Sundays and 3:30 PM to 11:30 PM on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. In the event of any snowfall during this shift, two truck-mounted plows will be sent out, one in Upper Rossland, the other in lower. 

Beyond those two shifts, in the event of exceptional snowfall of 15 centimetres or more, the city will call out what available manpower it has to maintain priority traffic lanes. Parking lanes will only be plowed during shift one.



Plowing in the downtown core will be limited to second priority on the first shift only as plowing operations necessitate a closing of parking areas and closing of portions of the street which may impede the normal flow of traffic.



Residential area plowing will be limited to removing snow from such areas such as intersections, where excessive snow accumulation may constitute a traffic hazard. These areas fall under the third priority task for shift one.



Overall, residents of our snowy city shouldn’t see dramatic differences in the traditionally high level of snow plowing service. The result of the new policy is that City operations staff will have better management and flexibility in scheduling personnel and equipment.



Council will still decide how much funds they will allocate to snow clearing each year. From there, operations staff will be empowered to carry out the work based on the policy passed by City council this past week.



For this year, the City’s road maintenance budget is $392,900. Last year’s actual realized cost came in at $338,276, significantly lower than 2008’s cost of $390,486. What these costs mean to the taxpayer in Rossland is that the average residential taxpayer in Rossland pays approximately $46 per year for winter snow removal, maintenance and sanding.



While the City will be doing its best to keep our roads safe and clear of snow and ice, the CAO Victor Kumar cautioned that the public also must remain diligent in keeping themselves safe through the winter season while on the roads.



“No action taken by the City alone can succeed in meeting the goals of the policy without cooperation from individual citizens. Both pedestrians and drivers need to be particularly alert and aware of climatic conditions which may impair traffic safety. Strict adherence to traffic, parking and pedestrian regulations is critically important to help prevent accidents during the winter season.”



Now that our streets, yards and mountains have been graced with their first white coating, it’s time for us all to keep our shovels at the ready as the City crews wait, prepared for another battle against mother nature in keeping our streets safe over the winter season.



Interesting note for all you snow junkies: over the past 75 years, snowfall in Rossland has averaged 352 centimetres per year. The winter of 1941-42 set the low mark of just 123 centimetres and the winter of 1973-1974 set the record of 665 centimetres. Over that same time frame, Rossland has averaged 24 significant snowfall events of 5 centimetres of more per year (averaging roughly 15 centimetres per snowfall).

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